“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:4–6
Q: What is the second commandment?
A: You shall not make idols.
What does this mean?
Because we worship and love God, we should not make our own, pretend gods.
Have you heard of a genie in a bottle? If so, do you know how it works? If you don’t, this is the gist of it. The myth is that a magical genie lives in a bottle and if you find this bottle, you can rub the outside of the bottle and the genie will then be obligated to come out. When the genie comes out you will be granted a wish and the genie has the power to give you whatever you wish for. Kind of cool, right?
Part of the reason why God doesn’t want us to make images that are supposed to represent Him is that we might be tempted to use those images like a genie in a bottle. If we crafted a statue that was supposed to represent God for us and we drug it around with us to remind us that God is with us, we might be tempted to think that God somehow resides with that statue and that God is obligated to be with us when we have the statue of Him with us.
But that misunderstands God’s freedom. God does not submit to our rule. We should submit to to His. God is not obligated to do anything that He doesn’t want to do. We are obligated to follow Him alone. God is not like a genie in a bottle and having a created representation of Him might tempt us to think that He is. In short, we cannot reduce God down to something we can control.
Read Acts 17:24–25:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.
- What does this text tell you about God?
- What does this text you about us, His creatures?
- Who is it that provides all that you need?
- Does God have needs?
Our Father, thank You that we can trust Your power, will, and sovereignty. Thank You that You promise to provide for our needs and that You have no weaknesses in You that are filled by us. We want to rest in Your absolute freedom to do as You please and we gladly submit to Your rule and reign. Forgive us when we fail. We know that You do because of Jesus. In His name we pray, Amen.